HyperX Cloud Stinger 2 Core Review – Are Budget Headsets Keeping Up?
Product: Cloud Stinger 2 Core
Intended Use: Gaming
You feel the same way I do, don’t you? The fact that HyperX came out of nowhere. They went from 0-100% in popularity, and I guess it comes down to it being acquired by HP. Nevertheless, HyperX is a true contender in the peripheral gaming space, offering both budget-friendly and high-end consumer products.
In this case, we are on the budget-friendly side, featuring one of their newest additions to their headset collection, the HyperX Cloud Stinger 2 Core. This headset is priced at $39.99, a mid to low range price, so I expect a “not amazing” performance, but maybe, just maybe, it will impress me. Stick around and find out.
Style / Feel / Build / Hardware
After you get through the highly underwhelming unboxing experience, we find a y-splitter to adapt the 3.5mm mic and audio jack into two separate jacks, the familiar green and pink, for easy PC support. The packaging only lists PC support, but this headset works for all gaming consoles supporting three-ringed jacks (mic and audio).
I’m not sure why they do not state that on the box, as I would imagine it will dramatically impact sales. Even the product listing on their website isn’t as clear as it could be. Anyway, this is a headset review, so back to the Cloud Stinger 2 Core.
Our headset today has a pair of 40mm drivers, which are a little bigger than other headsets in this price range. This will help with the DTS spatial sound mastering software provided, but we will return to that.
Moving on, the non-detachable wire connected to the headset is about 2 meters, and it feels cheap and easily damaged. Be careful catching this wire up against furniture, as it might tear, and you can’t replace it. The boom mic is also attached to the headset, having a flip to mute with a distinct mechanical spring click when toggled. Like every headset they provide, HyperX has a decently made windshield for your boom mic if you wish to cover it or are a heavy breather.
The Cloud Stinger 2 Core screams made of plastic, but what do you intend to receive at this price? The exterior shell is at least thoroughly cared for with a modern pattern design, so it distracts you from the build quality making for a seemingly more premium product. I respect the move. The headset also has a fine grit texture along with the pattern design, so it doesn’t just feel like smooth crummy plastic to the touch but rather a bit more tactile. Further, each ear cup holds a shiny metallic-like HyperX logo to spruce up the design a bit more.
The inner foam that rests on your head reminds me of those old cheap dad sneakers, as it has that look and feel. It is comfortable, but I’m wearing dad shoes on my head. The other inner lining of the ear foam has a leatherette for a mixed look. Next, all moving parts on the Cloud 2 are plastic based, including the headband adjustments and the master volume knob. Side note, you can find another logo on the headband.
Next on the list is that this headset provides you with two years of free DTS. I must say once I hear the difference, I will not be turning off the automatic audio mastering. The 40mm size of the drivers and the fact that this headset is over the ear help create a more dynamic sound stage with DTS. Also, plugging this headset into a pre-amp will improve the output quality and gain because you aren’t plugging into a motherboard with average built-in audio. I will refer back to the pre-amp later.
Performance / Hands-on Use / Features / User Experience / Analysis / Etc.
Beginning the performance conversation comes down to user experience through the DTS app because there is no support from what I can see for their Cloud Stinger 2 Core through HyperX’s Ngenuity app. After confirming your code, you can set your preference of sound by selecting between generic over-the-ear or earbuds. DTS also allows you to search for your specific headset; in this case, the Cloud Stinger 2 Core appears.
I was confused after selecting the Cloud Stinger 2 Core as my device on the DTS app because, in my opinion, the sound quality greatly diminished. It seems it added a crappy bass boost and muffled every mid and high tone available, so I switched to balanced over the ear profile, and the headset sounds way brighter and punchy.
Going back to the sound quality through a pre-amp, if you have a pre-amp that comes with software, you can further enhance your sound by manually mixing your preferred tone. This talking point made me further think that someone buying a headset for $40 probably does not have a pre-amp and does not intend to buy one.
The sound quality of the Cloud Stinger 2 Core inputted into a standard gaming motherboard will sound decently less clear than an external amp or aftermarket internal audio card, mainly because the HyperX Ngenuity software limits capabilities.
The most distinct inferences to make would be noticeable clipping on the high end, sharp “S” tones and hisses, and an overall lack of volume. To summarize, the overall sound fidelity outputted on the Cloud Stinger 2 Core is just okay. It’s expected sound quality for the cost, but it did impress me a little more through aftermarket boosts. Next on the list is the input boom mic quality. You would think it’s sub-par, but the boom mic quality is excellent, providing clear vocals with a wide range of tones.
The packaging boasts a noise-canceling mic, and to some degree, it is, but you can still dramatically hear yourself breathing on playback. I would say that this mic can easily be used for content creation or even narration. Still, the lackluster wind pickup renders this mic challenging to use professionally, regardless of the clean input tone. Kudos on the mic quality; you have to give credit where credit is due. Take a listen to this mic test. (Video review linked below has a boom mic test).
We are almost finished here, but here are a couple more talking points, starting with one of my biggest peeves with the Cloud Stinger 2 Core, and that peeve revolves around the volume knob. Not only is it a cheap feeling, but it moves way too easily. What I mean by that is, and maybe it’s only a “me problem,” is that when I stretch or move my right shoulder almost at all, I wind up adjusting the volume with my broad shoulder.
Granted, I have been wearing large hoodie sweatshirts since it’s February in New York; I think I have to re-adjust my volume knob 20 times a day because I shift the volume accidentally.
You probably avoid this issue when wearing thinner clothing, but I’m cold, damn it, and this minor annoyance irks me on the hour. I never had this issue on any headset, so the placement of this knob, and the knob is the only button on the Cloud Stinger 2 Core, needs re-thinking.
It could have been literally anywhere else, but what do I know about manufacturing? I’m merely a review nerd. Lastly, the Cloud Stinger 2 Core is light and doesn’t hurt over prolonged sessions of use. Sometimes, I’m on the computer all day, and I never experienced that annoying headband pain, so game on, nerds!
After spending enough time listening, gaming, and messing with HyperX’s Cloud Stinger 2 Core gaming headset, I can say that it’s a decent buy. The headset is great as a budget gift for a new or young gamer or someone looking for a bang for their buck. The Cloud Stinger 2 Core surprisingly holds some decent value from the mic quality but can use some help in sound.
There is also a lack of features to play with and adjust, and the DTS preset audio for the Cloud Stinger 2 Core sounds worse than a default DTS preset. That speaks volumes to me, as this hardware seems a bit thrown into the market, but hey, this headset fills a gap for some. Noisy Pixel gives the HyperX Cloud Stinger 2 Core gaming headset a C.
Overall, the headset is just okay, with many setbacks not limited to below-average sound quality from clipping problems, poor volume knob placement, and general build quality. If the boom mic didn’t pick up your breathing upon capturing your voice, I would rate this much higher because you can enhance the sound of this device with aftermarket resources making it a worthy low-priced contender.
Also, if you can catch an $80 headset on sale for $60-$65, I would save your money, sell a few glasses of lemonade, and snag the more expensive unit. $20 makes a big difference in audio quality, at least from my experience.
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